In 1956, Boyd “Uncle Heavy” Kimes started a show featuring talent that could weigh as much as 600 pounds.
In the years that followed, his Pork Chop Revue and its “smartest pigs in the world” made the TV rounds, with appearances on such shows as “Laugh-In,” “The Tonight Show” and variety showcases hosted by Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Ed Sullivan.
Kimes, and later his son Les, also known as “Cousin Grumpy,” would take the family collection of pigs and hogs on the road, gaining fans from coast to coast.
This week, the Pork Chop Revue will be a featured act three times daily at the Indiana County Fair.
It’s a comedy show, “almost like a dog show,” Les Kimes said, featuring Oink the Singing Pig, part of a crew featuring “little guys and big guys.”
“These bodacious barnyard buddies present a show featuring amazing stunts and laughable antics,” according to the description found at www.porkchoprevue.com. “You will laugh as you watch these bundles of bacon jump hurdles, waltz and even sing! But these pigs don’t race, they’re too smart for that.”
The show has a motto: “No matter what the gig, think pig.”
“I started in the show when I was 2 years old,” said Kimes, now 53 and continuing the tradition with his wife, Nina, as well as their four-legged cast.
“We have pigs who jump hurdles,” Cousin Grumpy went on. “They go down slides. They’re performing animals, just like dogs.”
At age 14 “Cousin Grumpy” made his professional solo debut. In the early 1980s he took over for his father.
More recently, for a while, there was another human generation, too.
“I have two sons who are grown now but from when they were little they were in the show,” Kimes said. “Both are entertainers in the Dallas, Texas, area.”
The four-legged cast also starts out young.
“I get them all when they’re 2 weeks old and hand raise them,” said Cousin Grumpy. “We keep them all their lives. They die of old age with us. These guys never go to the butcher shop.”
It’s “good, clean, family fun,” Kimes said, that has taken stages all over the contiguous United States — and for three months last year to Hawaii.
“We’ve performed in every state except Alaska,” Kimes said. “We do county fairs, state fairs, theme parks, festivals and theaters.”
And Las Vegas. The “revue’s” website has a testimonial from someone there who doesn’t get “fooled” too often, at least not on the weekly TV show Penn Jillette does with partner Raymond Teller.
“The finest pig act in the country,” Jillette is quoted as saying.
The pigs and hogs travel in what Kimes calls “a big custom-made vehicle,” with “a whole barnyard motif.”
They weren’t too far outside Indiana County back in 2012, when they were featured at the 132nd annual Dayton Fair.
The Pork Chop Revue was one of two acts recruited by Indiana County Fair officials at the 106th annual Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs gathering earlier this year in Hershey.
“An agent I use goes to fair conventions,” Kimes said, including that in Hershey.
The other act recruited there is “Farmer Ed,” who also will have a stage three times daily at the fair, teaching youngsters about rural life with “Ready, Set, Grow.”